Thirty Second Sunday Ordinary Time Mass and Reflections 2010

The Scripture readings for this Sunday's Mass and links to various commentaries can be found here
As it it the month of November and we have just celebrated All Saints and All Souls Day it no surprise that the theme for this Sunday is death and life after death.
As Fr. John Foley says :
"Death is hard to talk about. But life after death is even harder. Since both are in this week’s readings, we have to try it."
Ron Rolhesier makes a potent distinction between some of the various attempts and metaphors that have been used to explain the power of Resurrection . 

As I reflect on this Sunday's readings, uppermost in my thoughts and prayer is the horrific and brutal massacre that took place in Baghdad, Iraq this last week at Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral  ( not as has  frequently been reported Our Lady of Salvation).
Rocco Palmer has numerous posts on the events here at Whispers in the Loggia
Iraqi Christians carry the coffin of a relative killed in baghdad 

Since the killings, Al-Qaida in Iraq has threatened even more attacks on Iraq's Christians, claiming that they are legitimate targets who now face the "doors of destruction".
The warning, published on militant websites, came three days after  from an al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State of Iraq.
It was also significant that a 2 week Synod of Eastern Catholic leaders in Rome just ended. 
Some of the public speeches addressed the contentions in the region and the bloodbath in Baghad was perhaps a  blow-back. 
John Allen did a series of stories on this historic Synod which you can find here:
Some info from his first dispatch:
Of the 185 bishops taking part (out of a total of some 270 participants), 140 come from the 22 Eastern Catholic churches in union with Rome, meaning that just 45 represent the Latin Rite. In most synods, the bishops and other participants from the East are almost a footnote – this time around, they’re the main act.
That’s because the Christian presence in the nations which make up the Middle East is dominated by the Eastern churches, including both the Orthodox churches and those in union with Rome: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Turkey, Palestinian Territories, and Yemen.
The Synod for the Middle East  marked the first time that basically all the bishops of the Middle East have met with the Pope as a group.
The Syriac Catholic Bishop of Baghdad’s made this remarkable speech at the synod in Rome before the attack in Baghdad.

Please click on the link here for the full address.

He starts with the 2,000 yr old history of Christianity in his part of the world. Then moves on to the present.
This speech rings out all the louder in the light of the massacre this week.
"The invasion of Iraq by America and its allies brought to Iraq in general, and especially to its Christians, destruction and ruin on all levels. Churches were blown up, bishops and priests and lay persons were massacred, many were the victims of aggression. Doctors and businessmen were kidnapped, others were threatened, storage places and homes were pillaged…
Perhaps the acuity with which Christianity was targeted has been lightened during the last two years, but there still is the fear of the unknown, insecurity and instability, as well as the continuation of emigration, which always makes this question arise: what is the future of Christian existence in this country should this situation continue, more so because the civil authorities are so weak.
The tears are continuous between the different religious and political composing elements, as well as external influence by external powers, especially neighboring countries.
Seven years have passed and Christianity is still bleeding. Where is the world conscience? All the world remains a spectator before what is happening in Iraq, especially with regards to Christians.
We want to sound the alarm. We ask the question of the great powers: is it true what is said that there is a plan to empty the Middle East of Christians and that Iraq is one of the victims?"

Pope Benedict lamented the disaster after he prayed the Angelus on Nov. 1. He condemned the “savage” attack and offered prayers for the victims.

“I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, even more ferocious in that it has been inflicted upon defenseless people gathered in God's house, which is a house of love and reconciliation,” the Holy Father said.

“I express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, now stricken again, and I encourage its pastors and faithful alike to be strong and firm in hope.”

“Beyond these savage moments of violence, that continue to tear apart the peoples of the Middle East, I would finally like to renew a heartfelt appeal for peace: it is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions.”

“May everyone unite their strengths to end every act of violence!” the Pope urged.

Vatican Radio noted that the country's inability to form a solid government after the March elections has opened up the possibility of extremists gaining influence, resulting in mounting attacks on Christians by Islamic militants.

Archbishop Georges Casmoussa, the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul stressed that “what we are asking for, and we repeat this appeal, is that our governors and the international community push to bring peace to Iraq and push for the formation of a responsible government, so there is some authority over the situation here in Iraq.” 

Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, Shlemon Warduni, added that “the Christian community no longer feels safe, not even in the House of God, this attack will have a very negative influence on those who until now had chosen to remain in Baghdad, with many saying they are ready to leave.”

This video from  Aid to the Church in Need gives a graphic account of the suffering and persecution of the church in Iraq. 
This great organisation needs our support for its work for all the suffering Church throughout the world whilst fostering peace and reconciliation wherever possible. 
When the priests and people gathered for the Mass in Baghdad they were witnessing to a faith that was centred on eternal life based on Christ.  

They were following in the footsteps of many who have been persecuted throughout history for their faith.
In living that message they were callously murdered just as Jesus Christ was .  

Eternal rest grant unto them O lord and let your perpetual light shine upon them. May they be with you now and forever.

Christ reminds us in the gospel today of the hope of all those who die in faith:
"They can no longer die,

for they are like angels;

and they are the children of God

because they are the ones who will rise."

 Painting left is by Holly Wong.
" He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother from here

Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was shot and killed  whilst giving this last sermon at Mass in 1980 and this edited extract below also applies well  to the situation in Iraq.
"We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. 

As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart. 

Then, with death overcome, the sons of God will be raised up in Christ, and
what was sown in weakness and corruption will be invested with incorruptibility. 

Enduring with charity and its fruits, all that creation which God made on man's account will be unchained from the bondage of vanity. Therefore, while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself, the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one.

For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age. 

Hence, while earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God. 

For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father: "a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace." 

On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. 
When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower (Gaudium et Spes, #39)."
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: